Its almost summer and in some cases you may have problems growing grass in shaded areas around your yard or near your sports facility. Sometimes you should call it quits and just install a ground cover specifically designed for the shaded areas. (As long as there not on the field) There are some shade tolerant turf grasses but even with those the turf’s success depends on how aggressive your maintenance program may be.
Eventually those trees that were planted when your site was first developed will dominate the landscape and turfgrass, creating a shaded environment. While shade trees provide many benefits, it can make growing plants beneath them a challenge. Converting a bed of juniper or turf grass into something that can tolerate this new environment is often necessary in the landscape/turf world. Let’s look at some dependable ground cover plants that can tolerate shaded locations.
- Pachysandra – An excellent, evergreen ground cover that is tailored to growing in the shade, Pachysandra is indispensable to areas of the country where it is hardy. The glossy green leaves, white spring flowers and controllable habit make it effective under trees or other areas where shade limits your plant palette. Very good at keeping out weeds, Pachysandra prefers an average soil with normal water requirements.
- Liriope – This grass-like evergreen groundcover is actually a member of the lily family. Extremely common from the Mid-Atlantic into the South, Liriope is one of the most adapted groundcovers available. Sun, shade, wet or dry does not seem to bother this dependable plant. Ideal conditions are an average soil with even moisture, sun or shade is agreeable to it. Many varieties exist with variegated forms (white and yellow striped leaves) available. Liriope muscari is clump forming and not aggressive, while Liriope spicata is stoloniferous and will be more aggressive.
- Vinca – A daintier groundcover, this evergreen prefers shade, but tolerates partial sun. It is not drought tolerant and likes a rich, humus soil. The periwinkle blue flowers occur in late spring and are an added benefit in the landscape. Best when viewed up close and in smaller areas.
- Mondo Grass – Not a true grass, but a relative of Liriope. It is smaller in leaf and size than Liriope and will burn out if planted in full sun; nevertheless Mondo Grass’s fine textured leaves are effective when used in shaded beds under trees or by outdoor features. A dwarf variety is available that only grows an inch or two tall and looks nice around flagstone steps.
- Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium) – This groundcover is not evergreen but its ability to grow in dry shade makes it a good choice for some areas. Bishop’s weed has a white edge to the leaves which help brighten up shaded sites.
- Sedge (Carex sp) – Sedges are grass-like plants that are excellent groundcovers for wet, shady locations. Sedges come in many leaf types, with yellow and white varieties along with wide and thin blade types. Plants can be mowed down in the spring to clean them up.
- Plumbago (Ceratostigma) – Plumbago is a drought tolerant, aggressive groundcover for sun or shade. The 10-inch tall plants have blue flowers in summer and the leaves turn a maroon color in the fall.
- Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria) – The legendary fragrance of the white spring-blooming groundcover makes this a popular plant for dense shade. Plants form a dense mat of strap-like leaves that will gradually spread to form a weed-free groundcover.
Steve Sullivan is our Horticulturalist at the Brickman Group . If you have general landscaping questions you can send them to me or go to the site below for some ideas. www.brickmangroup.com/index.php